Another step forward
The restrictions on Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are quickly disappearing as the veteran infielders get their legs back under them. Until Monday, neither player had started four straight games since returning from the disabled list.
"Somewhere along the line, I've got to turn them loose," Manuel said. "But at the same time, I don't want to overdo it. I don't want them to have a relapse and stuff like that. But sooner or later, I've got to let them play four games in a row. Figured we'd try today."
The decision paid immediate dividends, as the two players connected on back-to-back home runs in the first inning against Brewers lefty Randy Wolf.
Utley entered Monday hitting .231 with a .292 on-base percentage, .400 slugging percentage and 11 strikeouts, although he did have three home runs, nine RBI and seven runs in 72 plate appearances. Against the Brewers, he finished 1-for-2 with three walks.
Howard is now hitting .237, and six of his nine hits have gone for extra bases, including four home runs. He has eight RBI, five runs and 12 strikeouts in 45 plate appearances.
Centerfielder Shane Victorino, a candidate to be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, left Monday's game with what the team called an elbow contusion after he was hit with a pitch he was ruled to have swung at. There was no immediate word on the severity of the bruise . . . A report by FoxSports.com said lefthander Cole Hamels was mulling over the Phillies' 6-year contract offer, believed to be in the neighborhood of $130 million. An ESPN report said Hamels was "conflicted" about whether to test the free agency.
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